Have you ever considered kayaking in the middle of the Arctic winter? Far from being an extreme undertaking, kayaking with Hege in Senja is a moment of serene beauty and calm. And most people can do it.
300 km, 200 miles, inside the Arctic Circle, there is a secret cove where even the uninitiated from warmer climes can try their hand at kayaking among ice floes. Here, Hege Dekkerhus, invites small groups on the lookout for natural beauty to her silent, harmonious world.
Tranøybotn is A Landscape Soothing to the Mind
The island of Senja is a micro continent of different landscapes. Tranøybotn, on the southern side, exudes calm and harmony. A bay with little islands and sandspits opens to the south, and afar you see the distant peaks of Dyrøya and Andørja on a good day. Between the gentle, wooded hills to the north you can see past the pine forests to the faraway mountains of the Ånderdalen National Park. A couple of hours from busy Tromsø, this is a haven of tranquility.
Hege’s Low-Stress Lifestyle: A Resting Heart Rate in Nature’s Playground
Hege Dekkerhus runs a small adventure and accommodation company in Tranøybotn, Norwegian Wild. Her base is equipped with its own lighthouse, from where one overlooks the landscape. To Hege, her corner of Senja is all about a resting heart rate, about unburdening your shoulders. Although nature is her playground, she threads it carefully. “Silence has its own beautiful sounds” she says.
Zen Kayaking in the Sheltered Bay Inviting Serenity
To Hege, kayaking is not about achievements. It’s a way of sensing nature. The sheltered bay represents no danger, and invites to slow, steady paddle strokes, creating nothing but small ripples. After all, we are guests in the home of seals, fish, and birds. Fed by many freshwater streams, the bay is filled with ice floes through most of the winter.
Experience the Polar Night with Sparse Daylight and Silent Beauty
Can you really kayak in the Polar Night? Yes, it’s a question of timing. In the middle of the day, there is enough light to venture out on Hege’s favourite bay. When paddling straight south, the fragile golden and pink colours of the sun below the horizon are in full view. When you paddle back, the hills in the north are draped in a deep, transparent blue, like aged cobalt glass. A snow shower lends the sky a deep violet hue and makes the silence even more silent.
The Sun Returns in Mid-January: A Transformation in Tones of Bronze
The sun’s retreat beneath the horizon doesn’t last that long, though. By mid-January, the first sunrays can be observed over the southern horizon, dressing the snowy landscapes in tones of bronze. The birches on land draw long, sharp shadows on the water. Soon the days are bright, and sunglasses are called for. This is the depth of winter, but it’s never extreme. Frequent snow showers blanket the hills and islands in a layer of soft cotton.
The Sunny Finale of Winter Brings Bright Days and Clear Skies
By mid-March, the daytime temperatures are on the rise. The days are longer, and the sun is higher on the sky, warming your face in the kayak. The snow cover is deep everywhere, even on the ice flows in the bay. The chances of clear skies are the best in the entire year. A bit of sunscreen on the nose tip is of course a good idea. The oystercatcher, this leggy heralder of spring, is already sauntering along the rocky shoreline. The water is at its clearest these days, and you can see the rocks and seaweed under the kayak, as well as the green colours created when the sunlight hits an area of sandy seabed.
Keeping Warm is no Problem
Is this a freezing cold experience? No, good clothing will keep you warm and comfortable. Turn up with your best woollen underwear, and an extra layer of wool or fleece. Then Hege equips you with a dry suit, good gloves, and a good hat. With almost all over you covered up, only the cheeks and the nose tip are explosed, and they might feel the cold a little bit. And you feel alive.
Who Should Go Kayaking in Senja? Requirements and Considerations
Most people can try kayaking for the first time in the Northern winter under Hege’s relaxed, patient guidance. No need to be a skilled kayaker or in Olympic shape. However, functional hips and joints are necessary, as you’re seated for an hour and a half. Heart conditions and epilepsy might be problematic, and there is a limit to how big one can be to fit into a kayak. Winter storms may lead to tour cancellations, allowing you to enjoy the show from Hege’s lighthouse with coffee in hand.
Good to Know about Kayaking in Senja
Senja is an island in Northern Norway, some 200 miles/300 km inside the Arctic Circle. The closest major town is Finnsnes, and it’s also found close to Tromsø and Harstad. Hege Dekkerhus invites you to kayaking in
In Winter, the water is colder and the weather less predictable. However, Hege operates in a sheltered bay and also equips you with good, warm clothing. This means that kayaking with her represents no danger. If the weather is too bad, she simply cancels. All outdoor activities in the north are weather permitting.
Go directly to the website of Norwegian Wild.
The website Visit Senja has ample information about everything on the fairy tale island of Senja.
If you have prebooked a stay and / or activities, Hege can pick you up at Finnsnes, the nearest town. There is a catamaran boat from Tromsø to Finnsnes, the voyage takes less than two hours. So in less than two hours, you can reach peaceful Tranøybotn from busy Tromsø swiftly and effortlessly. By private car, it takes a good 30 minutes from Finnsnes. There is also a bus, taking around 45 minutes, with a couple of departures every day.